A time for guidance

Aug. 11, 2013 @ 04:05 AM

Of late, the Rutherford County Commission seems to have encountered problems with some of their appointed advisory boards and committees.

The Airport Authority is a prime example of an appointed board that became so dysfunctional as to compel the commissioners to fire all the members and appoint themselves as replacements.

The Economic Development Commission board is floundering not knowing what it is supposed to do or how to organize itself.

On the other hand, the highly successful SWEEP board was dissolved by commissioners for no real reason other than a change in the direction of recycling in the county which has yet to be implemented.

Then there is the Planning Commission that has neither caused any problems nor done any planning.

Let's not forget the ad hoc property revaluation advisory committee that commissioners appointed that turned out to be improper, if not illegal under state law.

In the best of worlds there is nothing wrong with advisory boards and committees and, in fact, they can be quite helpful provided they are properly constituted and managed.

It is in that regard we offer some free advice to commissioners.

These advisory committees need to know what is expected of them. Commissioners should clearly and concisely outline the roles and tasks each committee is to perform. This is particularly important for boards and committees that do not have specific duties spelled out in General Statutes.

Commissioners should appoint qualified and dedicated individuals to serve on these committees. Political cronyism and patronage should play no role in selecting individuals to be appointed to advisory committees. Commissioners should seek individuals who possess knowledge and experience relevant to the committee and who are willing to invest time and effort to work for the committee. Ineffective or delinquent members should be removed or replaced.

To ensure accountability from advisory committees. commissioners should appoint one of their own to be a liaison to each committee to attend meetings and to provide feedback. Commissioners should require periodic reports from advisory committees outlining progress made toward achieving goals set by commissioners and recommendations for the commissioners' consideration.

And finally, commissioners should show appreciation for the service of committee members. When advisory committee members complete their terms the commissioners should invite them to a board meeting to publicly thank them for their service and present them with a plaque or certificate of appreciation.

Citizen involvement in government through participation on advisory boards and commissions is both rewarding to the individuals and essential to advancing the best interests of the community.

Again, the advice is free of charge.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark